Empowering the Freelance Economy

Top tips to get rid of freelancer guilt

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Only 2% of freelancers in a recent survey claimed to have never had to prioritise work over family. What impact does this have for the other 92% when it comes to their personal lives, marriage and most importantly, children?

The toughest realities for freelancers are juggling work commitments and their personal lives, with 83% finding setting boundaries to achieve a harmonious work/life balance a challenge, says a new survey from NerdWallet.

For those of us who have been freelancing or contracting for years if not decades, the juggle is real. Until school hours come into flux with ‘normal’ working hours, there will always be a conflict of time and focus between work and family life. Until freelancers embrace delegating tasks and asking for assistance, there will always be an imbalance.

Case in point: for nearly half of the business owners surveyed, the demands of work often took precedence outside of a nine-to-five schedule (47%), leaving 92% feeling guilty for putting their work first.

Not surprisingly, the holy grail of a perfect work-life balance was predictably elusive for those surveyed as just 2% seemed to ‘have it all’, claiming to have never had to prioritise work over family.

25% of participants admitted to prioritising their work over their personal life every day, while 50% stated that work is a priority 3-4 times a week.  

How to alleviate freelancer guilt

  • Delegate or hire out tasks that do not add value to your wellbeing, family time or business health: these tasks include domestic chores that are time-consuming (laundry, cleaning gutters, washing the car, cutting the grass, cleaning the house, etc.). If you have kids that want to make money and are able to do some of these chores, then that is another option. Admin tasks, such as your accounting; marketing and social media could also be outsourced. The point is, if you could be working and charging for a new project rather than using that time on unpaid tasks, then you have to do the math and see if delegation or outsourcing certain tasks is a game changer.
  • Use a daily walk either on your own or with your dog as 50% “me time” and 50% client or friend catchup calls. Set aside 60 minutes each day, whether in one go or 30 minutes twice a day to get exercise. remove yourself from your working environment while also ticking off a call with a client, friend or family member. This simple act can provide you a “balanced achievement” across your health, work and social well being. To manage struggles with work/life balance, 40% of respondents said exercise helped them pick themselves up; 37% opted for wellness and self-care; and just over a third (34%) regularly take time away from the business to reset.
  • Put your mobile aside. When you spend down time with your children, partner or friends, put the mobile phone in another room. You won’t feel you are really “with”your loved ones, if you have one eye on the phone and are not fully present.
  • Ready to play. Have a pack of playing cards with you at all times. Whether you are alone, with your parter a friend or the entire family, a pack of playing cards can carve out much needed down time and connections.
Have a pack of playing cards with you at all times so you can have spontaneous games in the park, in a restaurant or pretty much anywhere.
Photo by Steshka Willems from Pexels

Top tip: Keep a pack of playing cards with you

Always have a pack of cards or Uno set in your bag or car so you can be engaged in a family card game rather than the entire family zoning out on mobile phones. Have you ever seen an entire family on their mobiles at a restaurant?

Card games create quality family time, which will provide the work/life balance you need as a freelancer.

  • The “glamorous” freelancer lifestyle is in the eye of the beholder. Keep in mind that you do not have to keep up with social media pressure to post beautiful or inspiring photos of you in action as a freelancer or having the dream freelancer life. Unless this type of imagery is promoting your freelance services, mission statement or could generate business leads, then use your down time to do whatever makes you happy, rather than “showing” it on social media.
  • 91% of those surveyed felt that running your own business is glamorised in the media. But not everyone sees this as a negative, with 49% saying that media idealisation of entrepreneurship plays a role in encouraging those considering it to take the leap. Just 11% of participants felt that the media glamorisation is ‘unhealthy’.
  • Reprioritise workload and time-hungry clients. If you end up working late every night, and less and less time with family, it could be a sign that you are prioritising your workload inefficiently. This can and probably will have an impact on your home life. Partners and children of freelancers can feel neglected of your time and focus. This happens to all freelancers. The solution is pinning down why some clients may need more hand holding than others and monopolise more of your time. If they are and you are no better off financially for it, you should reschedule how you manage your time on their projects. Also, if you can dedicate certain days to certain clients you may be less prone to multi-tasking between clients. Focus on tasks due imminently, then work from there.
Is work taking over your evenings leaving you less and less time with family? You may need to re-think how you manage time allocated to certain projects and clients.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
  • Have helpers on hand. Sick kids? Emergency vet appointment? Last minute client meeting? Home emergency or broken down car? As a freelancer you need backup help. That could be a babysitter, family member, friend or neighbour that you can call on if you need a helping hand in an emergency or a last minute pinch. Return the favour in a way only you can, (dinner invite; watch their pet, DIY helper, etc.) so you do not feel guilty for asking for help.
  • Vent frustrations and pick up tips from fellow freelancers. Sometimes family and friends just don’t understand what freelancers go through in keeping everyone in their life happy, so having fellow freelancers to talk to is a healthy way to “vent” those frustrations and pick up tips to alleviate freelancer guilt. We have written an article on this and have a deal with Othership for those freelancers looking for a community to join.

Create solutions to keep your balance and enjoy being freelance

Despite a turbulent few years, 94% of freelancers and business owners say that they’d still go independent all over again. In fact, the mood is so positive among entrepreneurs that those surveyed are encouraging those considering it to give it a go despite the challenges; 44% noted the importance of learning from mistakes and coming back stronger, suggesting a positive future for Brits willing to try to make their business dreams a reality.

Despite the notable challenges business owners face in balancing their ventures with their personal lives, the overriding mood among business owners is one of positivity. Brits are up for the challenge, and more than that, they’d do it all again – even with full knowledge of the sacrifices that they’d have to make to see their business become a success,” says Denise Ko Genovese, a Senior Personal Finance Expert at NerdWallet.

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